Fluoride opponents target Healdsburg water

For more than 60 years, fluoride has been added to Healdsburg's water to fight tooth decay.

But that could end if opponents of fluoridated drinking water convince a majority of voters to stop the practice.

Activists recently filed a notice of intent to begin circulating petitions to put the issue on the ballot.

Healdsburg is the only city in Sonoma County to add the chemical compound to its water. But the Sonoma County Water Agency is studying whether to fluoridate its water, which gets delivered to Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Windsor, Sonoma, Valley of the Moon and Marin County.

"I am trying to stop the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (who oversee the Water Agency) to help them not vote for fluoridation," said Dawna Gallagher Stroeh, who also is spearheading the attempt to end the practice in Healdsburg.

She maintains that the fluoride in water is unsafe and doesn't work.

"Teeth in Healdsburg are no better that teeth in Sonoma County," said Gallagher Stroeh, a former Rohnert Park City Council member.

Healdsburg Mayor Jim Wood, a dentist, disagrees.

"I do believe water fluoridation is a time-proven, research-proven way to reduce cavities in children — no question," he said. "I believe it's effective and very safe."

It was 1952 when Healdsburg voters approved the fluoridation of the town's water, a practice that gained momentum across the country after World War II and has now grown to include water systems serving more than 200 million people.

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